Sheikh Uzair/Junaid Dar
SRINAGAR: Dozens of Rehbar-e-Taleem (ReT) teachers were arrested and nearly half a dozen others were injured on Monday here when police foiled their proposed Secretariat gherao march.
Hundreds of ReT teachers under the banner of Jammu and Kashmir Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers forum (JKReTTF) assembled in Pratap Park here in the morning holding banners and placards and raised slogans against the government.
The protesting teachers were demanding the de-linking of their SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) salaries from central MHRD plan and creating a budgetary posts for SSA teachers under states normal plan.
“Our SSA salaries are released from MHRD and we have to often wait for months to get them released which is a trauma to around forty one thousand ReT teachers and their families,” said Farooq Ahmad Tantray, chairman JKReTTF.
“Therefore our main demand is to de-link the SSA salaries from centre budget to state budget so that our salaries get released on monthly basis,” Farooq added.
As soon as the protesting teachers came out of Pratap Park and started marching towards the Civil Secretariat Srinagar, police swung into action and bundled dozens of them into police vehicles and were taken to Kothi Bagh police station.
Police baton charged and used hand-held pepper sprays to quell the visibly angry and defiant teachers. Water canon vehicles were also pressed into service which sprayed water and colour to the protesters.
Many teachers were injured in police action and were taken for treatment by their colleagues. Pertinently, teachers refused to take the injured to hospital into the police vehicles and arranged their own transport.
“When our salaries are not released on time, we are compelled to hit the streets which adversely affect the academics in schools,” the chairman said.
“We are pained to take these steps but the delaying tactics of the authorities force us to leave our educational institutions and demonstrate on streets,” he added.
Meanwhile, shopkeepers around Pratap Park and Press Enclave have denounced the police action in which many shopkeepers “suffered losses” when the water colour sprayed at protesters hit their shop fronts and spoiled the accessories on the display.
Many police personnel along with some photojournalists were soaked in blue colour.
“Every time there is a protest around press enclave. Police use water and colour cannons on protesters which often spoils our goods,” said Bilal Ahmad, a soaked salesman from a clothing shop near Press Enclave.
“When I told them (police) that they have spoiled our shops, they asked me to shut up or otherwise they will register FIR against me,” he said.